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Upper and Lower Wolf Jaws, Sep 5, 2022

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  • Upper and Lower Wolf Jaws, Sep 5, 2022

    These two got me to 30 high peaks - I’m proud of that number but it was a real Labour Day labour, and has me concerned about getting through the remaining 16, but I guess it is obviously always a plan to keep going one step at a time.

    This was my first hike in the rain. My work schedule usually gives me the flexibility to wait for great hiking weather. But since April, this has been the busiest freelancing year I can remember. It seems that everyone who has work, is working flat-out these days, and same here. I have not been living a balanced life. Finally I had a chance to hike Sept 5 or nothing, and that forced me out of my weather comfort zone. The best part of this experience was learning that a mild to medium rainy day is an absolutely acceptable day to hike!

    I used the AMR reservation system - when I checked last week, I was surprised how many spots were available for a long weekend Monday, and that was when the forecast still looked good. Still not sure of the whole reservation/permit situation. I honestly admit to being happy I had a spot to park. I drew up to the gate, was met by the attendant, identified and admitted. I had my reservation email ready on my phone, but he didn’t check it, he had all the info on his ipad.

    Walking to the trail register is a good warmup! I had to wait at the gate because there was a group ahead of me - a half dozen does and fawns. They could not have cared less they were in my way, they liked it there. What was the lure of the AMR guard hut? Do the security staff all have winsome Disney personalities, or do the deer know where to get their morning snacks, I am just speculating here and do not know for sure. My reservation was checked again before I could head in.

    I saw the sign “Ladies Mile” and wondered about the name. Was it historically for the ladies at the AMR lodge? I was in clompy footwear and a ball cap but decided I was still lady enough for the challenge. It is a nice tame trail and got me over a bridge to West River Trail, which led slowly up and away until I reached the turnoff to Wedge Brook trail. For navigational obviousness: when you get to a wooden bridge next to a big lovely waterfall, that’s where you turn right to go up to Wolf Jaws - I don’t want to say “you can’t miss it” but, I mean, really. The Wedge Brook trail is great - no memorable obstacles, and I am not in great condition right now, but it wasn’t horribly hard going. From the notch, the climb to Lower WolfJaws is good and tough, but relatively short. There were a few teasing misty views, but the clouds and drizzle were getting thicker. I think on a nice day, the views from oft-maligned Lower Wolfjaw would be beautiful. I definitely enjoyed the all-you-can-breathe fresh pine air - I think I was looking forward to that as much as anything this trip after spending most of the summer breathing in diesel fumes on the 401.

    Back at the notch, I kept on to Upper Wolfjaw. Bill Bryson said something once about being on the trail between two “brooding summits, one tiring to recollect, the other dispiriting to behold”. I felt that. I remember three scrambles going up UWJ that were a big challenge, and one had the option to squeeze through a narrow slot between two rocks. That was the worst of it. Solving each scramble-puzzle is addictively satisfying. Up and over that interim summit on the way to the true one, where I rested my feet. It was undeniably raining now, and the clouds were sinking further down to the valley. I could see slight outlines of Armstrong in the clouds - thought it might make a sort of ok summit picture, but in the time it took me to find my phone, the view thickened into utter whiteness, and that was the moment a mental curtain dropped over any thoughts of continuing. Armstrong was likely doable, but as I understand it, Gothics is a bare summit. I keep my imagination in check, but couldn't stop myself from thinking about an open summit in the rain, socked in with clouds and fog, me tripping over ledges and stunted spruce, feeling around for cairns with both hands.

    So I went down the way I came up. I felt real sadness when I chose not to “run over” and tag Armstrong and Gothics on this trip. My UWJ/LWJ experience will have to be a standalone rainy mood, but I guess it will also make a unique memory of that pair. The descent was a slippery challenge, that's for sure, and I am happy to say I left myself enough mental and physical energy (and patience) to deal with it. I passed the rest of the time thinking about a gear dilemma: when exactly does one put on rain layers? I was damp from the drizzle shortly after leaving the parking lot, but loved the cool temperature. At the same time, I was too sweaty most of the day to want a rain jacket. I had both rain jacket and pants, good ones, and they just rode in my pack. On the way down it was raining right through the trees and it just felt pointless to put anything over my wet clothes. I know it doesn’t take much to get hypothermia or the stumbles, but I only felt nice and cool (temperature-wise) the whole time. The temps were in the teens (Celsius) all day, with no wind.

    I got back to Wedge Brook Falls and it seemed to be a much more vigorous presence than this morning. Once the trail got smoother and less steep, I did some jogging to let gravity do its thing without all the braking action I can’t seem to avoid when I’m plodding more slowly. I went to Lake Road by way of the Canyon Bridge, and the gate was reached just before 3 pm.

    I only ran into four other hikers the whole day. One of my fellow Wolf Jaw conquerers was also at the parking lot when I got back. We agreed it had been some kind of a day all right. I ripped open a bag of potato chips and offered to share. He said oh, I have plenty of food, but I shook the bag at him and insisted “But these are from Farm Boy in TORONTO” like that was supposed to mean something. He politely tried a small handful, then a big smile spread across his face as he blissfully mumbled: “Salt!”


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  • #2
    Well done. And nice write-up. I always enjoy reading your stories.

    Comment


  • #3
    Nice TR! I remember one scramble on UWJ being mind boggling. Just a crack in the corner of the wall. I was told there used to be a rope there. They're a really rugged pair of peaks. Great job!

    Do the security staff all have winsome Disney personalities
    Ha ha ha! From what I've witnessed... No.

    Comment


    • Hear the Footsteps
      Hear the Footsteps commented
      Editing a comment
      The rope at the crack was infamous here.. To put a rope or to not put a rope. That is the question!

    • Learning The Trails
      Learning The Trails commented
      Editing a comment
      Or how about a ladder?
      *Ducks head*
      I know the purists will cringe at that. Plenty of space to put one and leave the crack as climbing options.

    • bikerhiker
      bikerhiker commented
      Editing a comment
      i was just there and im not sure i remember which crack you guys are talking about, but was it maybe the diagonal crack rising up to the left (climbing to uwj) against a larger uphill slab that your body is pressed up against?

  • #4
    *Labor

    Did you pack your Tromboune?
    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

    Comment


    • FlyFishingandBeer
      FlyFishingandBeer commented
      Editing a comment
      Makwa A bit of an inside joke/friendly international rivalry that stone611 and I have had going for a while. The added vowel is something I'll never stop lovingly teasing our upstairs neighbours aboot. Some of them have opinions on our pronunciations of Gothics and Macomb. All in good fun.

    • Makwa
      Makwa commented
      Editing a comment
      Ahhh... SOARee.

    • stone611
      stone611 commented
      Editing a comment
      I love hearing locals talk about Gahhthics (but don’t get me started on “Iroquois”…

  • #5
    Is it similar to the “Cornell crack?”

    Comment


    • Hear the Footsteps
      Hear the Footsteps commented
      Editing a comment
      The Cornell Crack is taller and more vertical. The more difficult section to UWJ is more of a concave slab with a narrow crack to jam your toe to climb and descend. More difficult if you wear boots.

  • #6
    You made the right choice to skip Gothics and Armstrong. Gothics for views. Armstrong for views and being an easy out and back from jct w/ Beaver Meadow Falls trail.

    Comment


    • #7
      Great write up and making lemon drops out of rain drops, or something, lol.

      great point with sweat and rain layers. tough issue, easy to read advice from different sources but nothing seems perfect for me cause maybe i sweat so easy. I think the way i figure it: if it is feeling really warm i would rather be wet from rain then sweat plus rain, and im ok being pretty wet from the rain if its warm and humid. If it seems cool enough that one should be concerned with hypothermia i deal with the sweat inside my rain layer, and change layers if i can when i can.
      "...don't assume you can't do it...we all make mistakes and sometimes fail. Keep working and learning, and be committed to improving fitness, and there is no limit to what you can do." Joe Bogardus
      "I believe it is in our nature to explore, to reach out into the unknown. The only true failure would be not to explore at all." Ernest Shackleton

      Comment


      • #8
        Wolf jaws is a good candidate for a rainy day hike. Definitely good plan on saving Armstrong and Gothics for days that you can enjoy the views! Good points about rain gear layers. I usually leave mine off until I feel that I will get cold if I get any wetter than I am at the moment while moving.

        Comment


        • #9
          The "Ladies Mile" is indeed a gentle walk for those staying in or around the clubhouse. I am reasonably sure, however, that the name came from early 20th Century New York City when the lower mile (20 north-south blocks) of Fifth Ave. was lined with womens clothing and home furnishing stores. That stretch of Fifth Ave. was also called the "Ladies Mile".

          Comment


          • stone611
            stone611 commented
            Editing a comment
            A nice umbrella shop would have done well there last Monday (even at Manhattan prices)
            I do give it credit for being as ladylike a mile as one finds in the Adirondacks. Thanks for the scoop!
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